It seems hard to believe that it’s been more than a decade since Drew Estate released the Liga Privada Único Series Papas Fritas, a petit corona that garnered attention for being a mixed filler release, something generally avoided in the premium cigar world, but in this case proudly promoted. To create the cigar, the company collected the cuts and trimmings from the creation of the Liga Privada No. 9 and T52 lines, wrapping them in a Brazilian binder and a Connecticut broadleaf #1 darks wrapper, the same leaf used on the Liga Privada No. 9.

It also seems hard to believe that it’s been three-plus years of living with COVID-19 and all that has come with that, including a period of time when companies were forced to shift from in-person events to online events. As part of its response to this forced change, Drew Estate launched Freestyle Live, a series of online events featuring several members of the company and its extended family, such as Joya de Nicaragua, which it distributes in the U.S. The shows also became a platform to launch new products, with the company creating Freestyle Live event packs featuring unbanded versions of the cigars that would be announced during the show, as well as swag such as lighters, cutters, cigar cases, and other accessories. The shows would also offer some pretty impressive giveaways for lucky consumers who purchased the packs, including a Bitcoin, vehicles, watches, airfare and more. Retailers who carried the event packs would also be eligible to win credit from Drew Estate toward future orders.

The shows have been used to launch a number of lines, including Undercrown 10, 20 Acre Farm, Nica Rustica Adobe and Blackened Cigars “M81″, a line created in collaboration with Metallica’s James Hatfield and Rob Dietrich, master distiller of Blackened Whiskey.


In late April of 2023, Drew Estate announced it would be hosting another Freestyle Live on June 8, and once again, there would be a new cigar revealed during the show. The packs went out to retailers, priced at $40 and coming with four cigars, a cigar case, a lighter and a cigar rest.

During the show, it was announced that the mystery cigar was the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas, a 4 1/2 x 44 petit corona that uses the same blend as the larger Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo sizes, but like the original Papas Fritas, has a mixed filler. That means while the wrapper and binder are long-filler half leaves just like you’d find on any premium cigar, the filler tobaccos come from the trimmings that result from the creation of those bigger sizes.

As for the blend specifics, the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo line uses a Connecticut corojo-seed wrapper grown in the Connecticut River Valley, while a Mexican San Andrés Otapan Negro Último Corte binder sits beneath that. The filler tobacco comes from Honduras, Nicaragua and Pennsylvania, the latter of which is the Green River One Sucker, a leaf known for strength and potent flavor.

The cigars began shipping to stores in mid-June, debuting with a price of $7.50 per cigar and $187.50 for a box of 25 cigars.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragaua
  • Factory: La Gran Fábrica Drew Estate
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Corojo-seed)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés Negro Último Corte)
  • Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua & U.S.A. (Pennsylvania Green River One Sucker)
  • Length: 4 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Petit Corona
  • MSRP: $7.50 (Box of 25, $187.50)
  • Release Date: June 2023
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The auburn color of the wrapper and the text on the band are quite well-coordinated, though I can’t help but notice the difference between the darker colors used by the Liga Privada No. 9 and T52 lines. The wrapper is a meaty brown with lots of mottling and some decent vein structure. The cigar is rolled firmly but not so much so the cigar won’t show some give when squeezed, with the wrapper leaf feeling decently thick and supple. The mottling of the leaf makes it a bit harder to focus on how the cigar is rolled, but a bit of focus shows that the cigars are rolled well. My only note is that it looks like the head of the cigar gets more of a wrap than what I would describe as the industry average, as it wrap starts about half an inch below the shoulder of the cigar. That wrap is finished off by a firm twist of tobacco that provides a firm point to the cigar. While not inherently construction-related, it takes a bit more effort than I would like to get the foot band off; I’m able to slide two of them off with a little bit of effort, while the third requires me to get a fingernail under the point where the two ends have been adhered together and start the process of tearing off the band. That process reveals that a small spot of the band has become adhered to the wrapper, hence the difficulty in removing it. The foot has an interesting aroma that I can’t quite place, as it has a slightly sweet red apple and some damp wood, followed by a finish of light black pepper, and then occasional sensations of a smoked apple pie. The cold draw is just a bit firm, with enough resistance that it registers as being worth mentioning. The flavor is smooth and subtle, but some attention reveals applesauce and damp wood, with only a very faint amount of pepper to be found. A few puffs get the lips and tongue tingling from contact with the leaf.

The Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas starts off with a pleasant and approachable fullness for the first puffs, with touches of rich wood, notably cedar, a faint creaminess and pinches of black pepper. A really pleasant pepper and wood combination in the retrohale, a slightly crisper and brighter expression that provides an enjoyable initial sensation as well as a lingering finish and tingle. While there’s no overt sweetness, the finish reveals something smoky and sweet that is one of the best-executed and most nuanced aromas I’ve had in recent memory. There’s a bit of white pepper and chalk scattered throughout the profile, both very much accents to the profile and of limited enough impact that neither steers the profile. I keep going back to the retrohales as the first third comes to a close as they are simply fantastic, serving as a near-perfect accent to the flavor. Flavor is medium-full, body is a hearty medium-full, and strength is medium-mild. Construction is fantastic, with my only gripe being that the ash can be a bit delicate at times.

I can’t tell if it’s the blend mellowing a bit or my senses just becoming more familiar with it, but I find myself having a few moments of real harmony with the cigar as it gets into its second third. That said, it’s not long before I notice the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas becoming just a bit more robust and sharp as the flavors crisp up and the pepper gets a bit heavier on my taste buds. There is still creaminess, which helps to balance out the change and deliver a familiar, welcomed flavor, as well as keep things fairly balanced. There have certainly been moments of complexity thus far, though I find the flavors to be more well-layered than complex. In the first cigar, the draw opens up just a bit as the burn line crosses the midpoint, removing my thoughts of the draw being firm as it becomes near ideal. The other two perform a bit closer to ideal without the change. As the second third comes to a close, the blend turns the same knob on the flavor that it did at the start of this portion, making the pepper a bit more intense by way of a bit fuller flavor and just a bit of char, which leaves a more pronounced finish after each puff. Flavor is now medium-full, body is medium-plus, and strength is still shy of medium. As would be expected from a Liga Privada, smoke production is plentiful, while the burn line is sharp and the draw is smooth.

As I put the cigar in the ashtray to jot down my thoughts from the second third, I notice that the aroma has brightened up a tick or two and now is different from the flavor and retrohale. The red apple sensation is back in this new aroma, though it is a bit smokier than before. The flavor picks up more smoky wood along with the increased black pepper, reminding me of a freshly lit smokehouse about to put some meat in the smoker. It’s a bit more textured on the palate and into the throat, with the cigar showing that it has parted ways with the creaminess from earlier that seemingly helped to balance those flavors. The final puffs do a quick about-face and lighten up the pepper, clearing the way for the creaminess to fill the void, while some light baking spices and cedar follow along. It’s a near-brilliant finish to an incredibly enjoyable cigar that only spent a few puffs outside the boundary of what I would call truly fantastic. A bit of red chili pepper flake heat lingers on my lips and the front part of my mouth as it comes time to put the cigar in the ashtray. Flavor finishes medium-plus, body is medim-full, and strength is medium-minus. Construction remains fantastic and problem-free, with the only requirement being a regular regimen of puffs to keep things plugging along ideally.

Final Notes

  • While the size of a cigar doesn’t factor into the score a cigar gets, I definitely enjoy these smaller formats that don’t require a ton of time to smoke through, and cigars like this one show that a lot of flavor and enjoyment can be offered in a smaller format.
  • On the other side of the vitola spectrum, in May 2023, Drew Estate announced the event-only Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Super Ancho, a 6 x 60 gordo.
  • On its most recent Freestyle Live show, Drew Estate announced the Liga Privada 10 Aniversario Selección de Mercado, which is a new take on the Liga Privada 10 Aniversario blend that will be heading to non-U.S. markets in mid-September. As that cigar won’t be available in the U.S., the company didn’t do the Freestyle Live event packs as it has done for other releases announced on the show.
  • Other than a bit of red chili pepper flake heat, I didn’t feel any lingering effects from the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas, as the cigar kept strength under what I would call the medium intensity level.
  • Drew Estate advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average, though I found myself really slowing down my puffing rate to savor the flavors. I could see smoking time reduced by 10-20 minutes with a more assertive rate of puffing.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigar Hustler, Cigars Direct, Corona Cigar Co.Gotham Cigars and JR Cigar carry the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas
93 Overall Score

After some of my recent reviews, it felt like I was in a rut of average to below-average cigars that were plagued with construction issues, middling flavor and decent but otherwise forgettable experiences. Then a cigar like the Liga Privada H99 Connecticut Corojo Papas Fritas lands on my to-smoke list and promptly dashes the memory of those cigars by showing that a small format can pack a ton of flavor amidst an engaging flavor journey, all while doing so with near-flawless construction. Other than a build-up of black pepper in the second half that occasionally oversteps the line for my preference, there’s little to fault with the cigar. Instead, I find myself compelled to praise the profile as a whole and its moments of nuanced aromas and well-layered flavors. A fantastic cigar that I hope will continue to deliver in the future as it did this time.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.